Is google losing their edge?

I love Google. I use a number of google applications. Google’s search is and has always been fantastic. I have a gmail account and a picasaweb account. Blah, blah, google’s does a lot of great things and makes my life better. Thank you google!

However, I’m feeling more and more that google just isn’t getting it like they used to. The internet has changed, it grows more dynamic, more personal. But while new sites keep popping up that enable users to do more, google looks the other way. They are building and building, or more likely buying and buying, but they aren’t reaching out, they aren’t connecting. I have two examples of this that I think are very relevant.

First, Blogger. Every blog on Blogger should have an RSS feed. Natively. Period. Authors should have the option to turn them off, but RSS is the real deal, and having to use a feedburner widget is a hassle.

Second, PicasaWeb. I love my picasaweb account. The interface is clean and fast. But the community seems tacked on. And that’s not even my real problem. My real issue is that Google has not built partnerships with other sites. Everywhere you go, you can integrate your flickr data. But with picasaweb, there’s nothing. I can’t go to and use my existing photos on picasaweb to make cards, I have to select them in iPhoto, export them, and upload them again. Same with sites like dopplr.Hassle!

I keep getting a Microsoft feeling from Google. Like the people who really ‘get it’ have lost to business, marketing, and management. Like they have a 20-year plan and can’t reel it in enough to see what’s actually happening today. Acquire, assimilate, devour.

  • rick

    I suppose based on their stock price today most of the world would disagree, but I don’t usually call financial firms for computer advice.

  • megan

    I love Picassa too but I don’t use the “web” portion of it. Anyway, I tend to disagree with you about Google becoming more like MS. MS has their heads so far up their asses that they have lost complete touch with what people want/need. I think Google knows what people want/need but haven’t quite figured out how to integrate it fully. I think they are still very new and have a lot of maturity ahead. I am happy to know they are giving MS a run for their money.

  • Jerzy

    I agree with Rick, and actually have been thinking that myself for a while. At my job in IT, I have opportunities to work professionally with both Google and Microsoft – we buy their products, but I also use many of their tools for personal purposes.

    While initially working with Google felt like a being a part of great new adventure and people acted like under a spell – they could do no wrong; however, more recently in dealing with product bugs and release delays Google feels more like good old MSFT. I am not sure this can be attributed simply the fact that “they do not get it”. I think it’s a result of combination of a Complex system with human nature; since I am sure there are people there who do get it.

    I think that like with any fast pace growth, over time there is risk of becoming complacent, bureaucratic, and full of fragile legacy code, etc. – very easy to accumulate when simply running without alignment to a strong vision. It’s difficult to see who is providing that vision at Google nowadays… That becomes a lot harder when dealing with many new employees; they added thousands in recent months, and over the last couple of years many of these new employees came from high up or creative positions at Microsoft. It’s bound to have some impact on their direction and ethics.

    Sometimes, Google is reaching out; like in recent case of enabling their GMail for IMAP interfaces. So, when it servers them, they know how to add some strategic and architectural thinking to the process, however I agree with Rick, it’s usually an afterthought and driven mostly by some business arterial motives rather than simply serving the community well.
    I am not sure what is happening to their motto “do not be evil”.

    Check out this recent monologue for additional interesting details:

    For the purpose of full disclosure, I do own some Google and Microsoft stocks, but I do not care much about the financial gains, I would prefer to be proud of either or both of them.

  • megan

    As a system administrator I have dealt with MS’s product delays, bug fixes (or lack of) and poor support. Although I don’t use Google on a professional level, I do use many of Google’s tools daily and as an end user have had nothing but positive experiences. All I can say is that Google has a long way to go before it is as smug and manipulative as MS.

  • Jerzy

    Absolutely, looooong way to go !
    However, the question could be: did they start in that direction ?

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